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Tuesday, 02 January 2007 06:17

Cycling - Rules

Team pursuit cyclists  Cycling - Rules
Main types of cycle track racing are time trials, sprints, pursuit, points, Madison and Keirin


Road race: An individual road race over a 239km course (120km for women), with the competitors starting at the same time and racing together.

Individual time trial: An individual road race over a 46.8km course (31.2 km for women) with competitors starting at 90 second intervals (making drafting near impossible). The rider with the fastest time wins.

Team time trial: The same as the individual time trial but contested by teams who work together by sharing the lead to maximise the drafting effect.


Time trial: Riders compete alone on the track. From a standing start they have to ride four laps (1,000m) for men and two laps (500m) for women. The rider with the fastest time wins.

Sprint: Riders compete against one opponent over three laps (750m), with only the last 200m timed. The best of three races wins. Riders draw lots for who "leads-out" (starts in front) and swap positions for the second race, with another draw taking place if a deciding third race is required.

Riders must cycle at a minimum of walking pace for the first lap, and are not allowed to stand still for more than three minutes on the second lap. On the final lap, blocking an opponent by moving into their lane is not allowed. Sprint competitions use a knock-out format, with a final to decide gold and silver, and a play-off between the losing semi-finalists for bronze.

Team sprint: A sprint race over 750m contested by teams of three, with the teams starting at opposite ends of the track. One rider from each team drops out after each lap, leaving the remaining rider to race for the finish. The first round is run against the clock, with the fastest eight teams going through to a knock-out competition. This race is also known as the "Olympic Sprint".

Individual pursuit: A head-to-head race over 16 laps (4km) for the men and 12 laps (3km) for the women. Riders start from opposite ends of the track and can win by either catching their opponent, or simply finishing in a faster time. The first round is run against the clock, with the fastest four teams going through to a knockout competition.

Team pursuit: A pursuit race is contested by teams of four. The team's position is taken by the front wheel of the third rider on the track, so only three riders have to finish the 16 laps. The first round is run against the clock, with the fastest eight teams going through to a knock-out competition.

Points race: One rider from each country enters this 160-lap (40km) race, with all competitors starting at the same time. Riders aim to gain a lap on the field. There are also a total of 20 sprints (one every eighth lap) where the first four riders over the line win points.

Five points are awarded for first, three points for second, two points for third and one point for fourth. Riders who gain a lap are considered to join at the back of the field again, so they do not automatically win the sprints. In the final standings, gaining a lap is more important than the points total, which is normally used as a tiebreaker between several riders.

Madison: A points race contested by teams of two riders on a "tag team" basis. Only one rider at a time is active and able to score points at any given time, the other usually rests by circling the top of the track at low speed.

Riders swap over by touching hands. Riders usually grip hands, with the active rider quickly pulling the inactive rider forward to give him a speed advantage when he becomes active.

Keirin: An eight lap (2km) race contested by up to eight riders, who draft behind a pacing motorcycle (known as a derny) for the first five-and-a-half laps. The derny gradually increases speed from 25km/h to 45km/h. When the derny pulls off the track, the riders race each other for the final two and a half laps.

Cycling - Animation

A core sport at all major international games, cycling can be a test of endurance, speed or both. Gear up for the Games using our animation to find out more about the bikes the competitors use on road and track.


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